Sunday, August 28, 2005

A Night At the Movies

There are movies, and then there are movies. These movies I sincerely hope you will see, because they represent the very best in film-making. They are movies that I prefer to call films, because to call them movies and to class them with the likes of such stinkers as Catwoman, or Gigli, seems a crime.

Closer- This movie is not about love. It's not even about lust. It's about infidelity, boredom, dishonesty. It's the itch you can't scratch, and then when you do scratch it, you realize you're scratching the wrong thing, and now you're even itchier. Except, not as lame as that analogy. It's really good, and really frustrating, and really raw. It's painful to watch grownups go through life with so little integrity for themselves, or for others. There is no sense of happiness, or even of calm. It's pathetic to watch, and even more so because it feels so real. It's not that they make the wrong choices, but that they refuse to choose at all. In having everything, anything (every one, anyone), they have nothing. And you know that they never will. In fact, the characters aren't really any closer to anything at all; in fact, they end up further than where they started from. It's compelling, and sad, and needs to be seen.

Directed by Mike Nichols; written by Patrick Marber; starring Julia Robers, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, and Clive Owen. Closer is available to rent or own today!

Spanglish - If you could get pneumonia from going from one emotional extreme to another over and over, I would be a phlegmatic mess right now. This movie delighted and surprised me with how good it was. In principle, it is thematically similar to Closer. In execution, it is nothing like it. Yes, it's about infidelity. But it's also about growing up, and having priorities, and being honest, and nurturing sustaining relationships. These characters are heart-breaking in their sincerity. You'll laugh, and then cry, and then laugh, and then cry. And you won't want to throttle the child actors, which is usually a big problem for me. You will ache for the characters who know there is more to life than enjoying the now, and that where children are concerned, there are some risks you cannot afford to take. The maturity will kill you, and then save you in the end. And the luminescence of Paz Vega will almost blind you, and leave you with the distinct feeling that the language barrier has never been more beautiful. James L. Brooks, I salute you for writing such likeable, well-rounded characters.

Directed and written by the funny and talented Mr. James L Brooks; starring Adam Sandler, Tea Leoni, Paz Vega and the sweet and endearing Cloris Leachman. Spanglish is available for your viewing pleasure today!

Crash- If the first 2 deserve the title Film, then this one deserves to be classified as Art. It is nothing short of a masterpiece. While Spanglish takes a look at the clash of cultures between one family, this film broadens the scope and puts several situations under the microscope. I can't even begin to tell you what it all means; the truth is, you owe it to yourself to watch, and to find out what it means to you, personally. I believe that it will mean something to you personally. I believe that it is meaningful, and difficult to watch, and Beautiful with a capital B. If there was something bigger than a capital B, I'd give it that too, because it is truly worthy and touching and wonderful. Paul Haggis is nothing short of brilliant. I hope someday to shake his hand and tell him that to his face. In writing about racism, he has written about humanity. As we delve into intimacies with a range of characters, we come to know ourselves a little bit better. We react. We see that the characters are never as bad as we think, nor as good. No one is 100% anything. We see a little bit of every colour; every race, ethnicity, creed, religion, class. We are presented over and over with Them, They, Them, that by the end, Them is Us, because we are all united; we are all the same in our differences. If none of my other pleas have entreatied you, I hope this one does. Everyone needs to see this film, experience it, own it, possess it, admire it often. Like all great Art, it will get under your skin. You will want to talk about it, and in this aspect it accomplishes its greatest stroke of magnificence: the power of discussion.

Directed and written by Paul Haggis; starring the wise and wonderful Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon, Brendan Fraser, Ryan Phillippe, and the astonishing Micheal Pena, soon to properly famed and acclaimed, among many others. Crash will be released on video next week, September 6th, and should be at the top of your list.


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